If I could go back and talk to myself ten years ago and share only one filmmaking success tip, what would I say? In two words: Cold Calling. I know this may sound unrelated to filmmaking.
But I can tell you that filmmaking success is not created in a vacuum. It is created with the help and support of other people, including mentors and customers (AKA, your audience.)
And while it is true that some people stumble upon contacts and get lucky, I would venture to say that over 90 percent of self-made successful people got what they wanted in life by utilizing some variation of the following three success tips:
First: Successful people know what they want.
Second: Successful people make a plan to get what they want.
Third: Successful people pick up the phone and cold call people who could help make their plan a reality.
Think about it. Could you go to “networking events” and try to find folks to help introduce you to appropriate contacts? Of course you can. And I recommend you do this.
But let’s be honest. Most times the people you NEED to meet (to become a filmmaking success) don’t need networking events. In other words, they aren’t there. So what do you do? Easy. You pick up the phone, call your prospective contact’s place of business and try to get him or her on the phone to make your pitch.
Will you get through? Maybe. Maybe not.
But if you had a list of 100 prospects and you called all the people on that list, odds are good you would find someone willing to sit down with you. Why is this important to your filmmaking success? Because unless you ASK for what you want, how is anybody in life going to know how to help you?
How To Become a Filmmaking Success
Aside from knowing the right people, to become a filmmaking success, you actually have to get a movie made, seen and sold.
The good news is, advances in technology makes this much easier than years ago. These days filmmakers can utilize crowdfunding, find inexpensive cameras and distribute movies globally through one of the many VOD platforms. This means you can wake up every day imagining all the wonderful movies you plan to make.
You can create your own mini-movie-studio and distribute your films anywhere in the world. You don’t need Hollywood to give you permission. And if your vision and passion is strong enough, you will take steps towards the achievement of this dream.
But let’s make one thing clear. You are not entitled to filmmaking success. You still have to do the work.
You will have to write or option and refine a screenplay. You will have to find actors and collaborators with gear who want to work with you. You will have to raise money to pay these people. And you will have to firm up a production date and go the distance to get your movie made, seen and sold.
If you are lucky, you might even get to make a living with your work.
But it won’t be easy.
Months and years will pass. Your friends will get married. They will have babies. They will have families. Their kids will grow up. And you may find yourself living alone in your mid-30s wondering if trying to achieve filmmaking success is worth it.
This will test your resolve.
What is filmmaking success?
While the vast majority of first time feature filmmmakers dream of fame and fortune, your perspective may be a bit more pragmatic.
Maybe you just want to make a few movies a year and make a living making movies. Regardless of your end goal, there is a lot of competition out there.
While affordable production technology has made filmmaking accessible, you aren’t the only filmmaker who knows this. Many people are making backyard indies. And as a result, the supply of cheaply produced movies has surpassed demand.
The days of HUGE minimum guarantees are over. So if you’re going to become a filmmaking success, you need to do more than simply making movies. You will have to view yourself as an entrepreneur and you will have to view filmmaking as your business.
Three Steps For Filmmaking Success
To garner success, YOU are now responsible for sourcing an audience and building a platform for YOUR projects. And this reveals the next major challenge. How does a filmmaker succeed in this changing business?
1. Become an Internet marketer: Or team up with someone who is. Movies are now accessible everywhere, including computer monitors and mobile devices. As a result, you will need to drive targeted Internet traffic to many different points of sale and convert these visitors into a paying audience.
2. Crowdfunding Is Essential: Running a successful crowdfunding campaign requires social networking, real-world networking and Internet marketing. Aside from raising money, crowdfunding allows you test your movie concept before you invest time and money into making your movie. When successful, you can add your supporters to your ever growing mailing list. Which brings me to my next filmmaking success tactic…
3. Your Audience Is Your Business: Marketing nerds have a saying, “The money is in your list.” And the same statement applies to you. Your ongoing goal is to create work that encourages people to sign up for your mailing list and become a fan of you and your movies, for life. Then with each project, your ongoing goal is to continually grow your list.
Filmmaking Success in 30 Minutes a Day
As you can imagine, becoming successful in any field is challenging. And if you’re busy working a day job, finding time for your film project may seem impossible. But there are some strategies you can employ to get past this.
One of our readers reached out a while back asking for my best time management tips. She explained that she’s getting distracted with her day job. So after some thought, I came up with the following filmmaking success challenge – which is the same strategy I utilize myself.
- Make a list of all things filmmaking that you need to accomplish.
- Break the list into micro-steps. For example if the task is to finish your screenplay, break it into “write one page per day.”
- Carve out at least one half-hour per day to get closer to your goals.
If you follow this formula, you can become a filmmaking success in 30 minutes or less, per day.
Think about it. One half-hour per day equates to 3.5 hours per week – or 182 hours a year, which is roughly 4 working weeks. What can you do with 4 weeks of solid work?
Probably a lot.
The best time to accomplish your filmmaking goals is early in the morning. Each night before bed, prep your work area and plan what you hope to accomplish. Then get up an hour early and get to work.
The secret to filmmaking success is to continually break your filmmaking in manageable chunks. If you consistently check things off the list, you will achieve filmmaking success faster than you imagined. And if you loved this tip, you will enjoy my filmmaker checklist.